I’ve been in a reading slump, so DNFs are par for the course right now. I recently decided to abandon a book I thought was pretty awful. I normally wouldn’t hesitate to write up a post about why I decided not to finish it, but I’ve been busy and tired, completely lacking in energy, and I have to make choices about where to focus the little bit of motivation I do have. So that means rethinking my ideology re DNF reviews.
First, the obvious: I wholeheartedly believe that bloggers have the right to review a book that didn’t finish. If they don’t think a book is worth their time, then I think it’s fine for them to share why. If a book is bad enough that a reviewer had to toss it across the room, you can be damn sure I wanna read that review. I’ve written my own DNF reviews in the past as well. I’ve gotten a handful of trolls about it, especially on Goodreads, but who cares. And anyway, this post isn’t really on the merits of a DNF review. It’s about when and why I write them now.
Some DNFs are simply abandoned because a book is unremarkable. If I forget about it, can’t remember what the hell is going on when I do pick it up, and am just wholly unmoved by the story thus far, I probably won’t talk about it too much. Maybe a sentence on twitter. But a book that makes me feel nothing doesn’t deserve its own ten paragraph essay, so I skip that review. I’ll also pass on writing a whole post about a book if I read less than say, 15%. This is kind of a ballpark figure, but basically, there have been books that I quit really early. Like first ten pages early. In that case, I hardly think it would be “fair” for me to review it.
So what does make me pull out my laptop and go in on a DNF? Well there’s a few things, but mostly it’s because I have something to say. If a book has pissed me off and that’s why I’m reviewing it without having finished it, well, I’m going to write about it. Especially in the following cases.
- Romanticizing abuse. This happens a lot in paranormal romances, which isn’t a genre a read a whole lot anymore. However, if I come across it, you can bet I will bring it up. (coughcoughacotarcough)
- Nonsensical plot or character development. When events are unfolding in ways that literally make no sense to me, I’m usually bursting to complain about it. I know I read a lot of YA and teenagers are not famous for always making the best decisions (I mean, neither are adults tbh) but when I see characters making choices that don’t align with their characterization, and nothing else is hooking me to a book, I’m quitting. And reviewing.
- Bad representation. Now, I don’t claim to know everything about every minority community. But I do know about my own, so I feel comfortable calling out terrible LGBT+ rep. And if I suspect terrible representation re race, I’ll do my research, and then call it out. I’m all for pushing diversity, but not if its at a minority community’s expense.
Now, with my recent DNF that prompted this post, I actually did have something to say. I really disliked the character development. Like, a LOT. I made it halfway through the book and I was angry when I finally decided to call it quits. I have a lot to say about it, too; just check my DMs. However, after reading a handful of other reviews, I decided not to post a DNF review of it. Why? Because of good diversity representation. Reviewers from the particular background of this main character have reviewed this book and stated that it meant a lot to them to see themselves on the page. I know how that feels. So I decided that I’d rather not put anyone off reading this book if that means someone can see their own background represented. This book definitely isn’t for me, but it’s not offensive.
So, do you post DNF reviews? Do you have a neurotic process deciding whether or not to review, like I do? I want to hear your thoughts!